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TAJIKISTAN


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,208 1,100 991,000 147
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 180 180 180 196
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Tajikistan

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
143,100 

Population 
6,863,752

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Tajiks 62.3%
Uzbeks 23.5%
Russians 17.6%

Capital 
Dushanbe

Currency 
Tajik Somoni

President 
Emomali Rakhmonov

  

Update No: 285 - (01/10/04)

In Tajikistan, where a Moscow-backed secular government beat an Islamic opposition in a civil war in the 1990s, local media have said they have come under pressure in the run-up to a parliamentary election early next year. 
With the exception of Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, the former boss of a Soviet state farm, all Central Asian leaders started political life taking direct orders from the Kremlin. 
And despite nearby China's growing importance, they still look to Moscow for political direction. Opposition politicians say there is a gentleman's agreement throughout the former Soviet bloc to recognise each other's votes, however fraudulent

OSCE rep in Dushanbe
An important condition for development of civil society is the right of all mass media to get information regardless of their political orientation, OSCE representative for freedom of media Miklos Harasti has noted. Harasti was a notable dissident in Communist Hungary. 
Addressing the 6th Central Asian conference on mass media opening in Tajikistan's capital, Dushanbe, on September 22nd, he stressed that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe shares concern of journalists about the state of freedom of media in Central Asia and attempts of state officials to pressure independent editions.
Representatives of non-state mass media from Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan took part in the discussion.
The OSCE and Tajikistan's Association of Independent Journalists, who organized the conference, expressed regret that journalists from Turkmenistan stayed away from it. Orators agreed that governmental censorship had mounted an offensive on freedom of speech, carrying it out in different guises. Tajikistan was cited as example, where several opposition papers were closed before parliamentary elections scheduled for February.
Independent journalist Marat Mamadshoyev said members of the media had twice addressed Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov with a request "to put an end to arbitrariness of functionaries". They got no satisfactory answer.

NGOs in deep trouble 
In Tajikistan, Soros' OSI is facing problems less than six months ahead of the parliamentary elections. The chairwoman of the organization in Tajikistan, Oynihol Bobonazarova, says the trouble just started. 
"Up until 14 September, we didn't feel pressure from either the government or the state media. But all of the sudden all the government newspapers printed baseless articles that has forced us to re-evaluate our situation," Bobonazarova said. 
Such articles have included accusations that the OSI in Tajikistan is corrupt. 
Lupis of the CPJ says Central Asian governments might be worried about a repeat of the events in Georgia last November, when the so-called Rose Revolution toppled the regime. 
"There is some sensitivity to what happened in Georgia at the end of 2003 where independent media and NGOs did play quite an influential role in ousting Georgia's authoritarian and corrupt leader Eduard Shevardnadze out of office," Lupis said

Former guerrilla attacks police station 
An armed confrontation in the mountains of eastern Tajikistan has been linked to wider tensions between the government and former opposition guerrillas.
In the remote town of Tajikabad, 120 kilometres from the capital Dushanbe, police on September 2 arrested Yeribek "the Sheikh" Ibrahimov and 20 other men accused of launching an attack on the local police station and the nearby prosecution service building. 
Police said a lieutenant was killed and another police officer injured when five men raked the buildings with machine-gun fire and fired grenades at them on the night of August 27-28. Interior Minister Humdin Sharipov told journalists that Ibrahimov was arrested on suspicion he led the attackers. 
When Ibrahimov was arrested, police also seized a cache of weapons which - if the reports are to be believed - could have equipped a small army. The arms found hidden in a cave included a multiple rocket launcher, 15 anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems, and assorted light weapons and ammunition. 
The "Sheikh" used to be a guerrilla commander with the United Tajik Opposition, UTO, which fought a five-year conflict with the government ending in 1997. Under a peace deal, paramilitary forces were supposed to have disarmed and returned to civilian life. Interior ministry figures say Ibrahimov told them that the arms cache dates to the civil war years, but that some of the weapons may also have been left behind by the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a group which mounted raids into Uzbek border regions in 1999-2000.

Disturbing rise in police harrassment 
Analysts in Dushanbe report a disturbing trend where police are harassing former UTO guerrillas who were covered by a general amnesty when they laid down their arms. It is reported that the principal objective is to extort money.
The government for its part says it is taking action against the few remaining "illegal armed formations", in other words ex-UTO combatants who either failed to disarm or have reformed their units. Only a few dozen kilometres down the Rasht valley from Tajikabad, the authorities are combing the mountains in search of another former guerrilla chieftain, Ahmadbek Safarov, who is reportedly hiding out with 30 men.

Wider political implications
The Tajikabad clash has also had repercussions on national politics. Rumours circulating in Dushanbe say the upsurge in trouble in the Rasht valley is the work of Mahmudruzi Iskandarov, the leader of the Democratic Party. The rumours appear to be based on government leaks.
The Democratic Party was a minor partner in the UTO which was dominated by the Islamic Rebirth Party. After disarming, both now operate legally and will contest next year's parliamentary elections.
Iskandarov comes from Tajikabad, and during the conflict he was Ibrahimov's superior in the guerrilla force which dominated this area. He is said to retain considerable political support in the area.
Iskandarov himself made the transition from guerrilla commander to civilian politician, and for a time headed Tajikistan's national gas company. His sacking from the post late last year was seen as part of a wider trend in which the authorities were reneging on the spirit of the peace agreement by quietly removing opposition people from their posts.
The opposition politician is currently in Moscow, but his deputy Rahmatullo Valiev told IWPR, "We are concerned that recently there have been various rumours spread about Mahmadruzi Iskandarov."
Hikmatullo Saifullozoda, a leading figure in the IRP was more forthcoming, describing the rumours as a deliberate smear by the government. "By disseminating this false report, the authorities are trying to discredit Iskandarov ahead of parliamentary and presidential elections, by blaming him for all the negative trends seen in the Rasht group of districts," he said.
After Iskandarov was removed as head of the gas company, he went off to Tajikabad to consult with his supporters there. In April, President Rahmonov made an effort to court him, by meeting him and offering him another job. Although Iskandarov turned the post down, relations between the two men appeared to thaw, but they worsened again in June after Iskandarov publicly criticised a new election law for discriminating against opposition parties.
Iskandarov's critical stance, says Saifullozoda, is the reason why the authorities are seeking to destroy his reputation by implying that he might one day muster an armed force against them, "It is obvious they want to put pressure on the Democratic Party leader and clear him out of their way."

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ENERGY

Iran to allocate US$150Mln for Tajik hydroelectric power plant 

Iran will allocate US$150 million to finish the construction of Tajikistan's hydroelectric power plant, Iranian President, Mohammad Khatami, said at a news conference in Dushanbe, recently, Interfax News Agency reported. 
"US$150 million have been envisioned for this project," said Khatami, who was on an official visit to Tajikistan. He expressed hope that "this project will be completed with the assistance of Russia and Tajikistan." 
Commenting on the financing of the Sangtuda hydroelectric power plant, Tajik President Emomali Rakhmonov, who also attended the news conference, said that Iran accounts for 51% of the overall funds invested in the project, while the remaining 49% belong to Russia and other countries that will help finish the facility's construction. 
The construction of the Sangtuda facility, 100 kilometers south of Dushanbe, started in 1987, and the project was mothballed following the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The hydroelectric power plant is expected to have a capacity of 670 Megawatt, and its output will cover the country's deficit of 4 billion kilowatt hours of electricity during winter periods. It will also make it possible to considerably increase electricity exports to Iran and Russia via Uzbekistan and Kazakstan at low prices. 
One kilowatt hour of electricity to be generated by the Tajik facility will cost US$0.0024, and it is planned to complete the project within the next four years.

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FOREIGN COOPERATION

Rahkmonmov meets with Japanese foreign minister

Issues of bilateral cooperation and international problems were discussed at the meeting on August 31st, between Japanese Foreign Minister, Yoriko Kawaguchi and Tajik President, Emomali Rakhmonov, in Dushanbe. The Tajik president looked upon Kawaguchi's visit as "a favourable opportunity to further develop bilateral relations," Rakhmonov's press secretary, Abdufattokh Sharipov, said, Interfax News Agency reported. 
Rakhmonov noted, "Tajikistan highly values the help and support of the Japanese government." Over the last several years, many Tajik specialists have undergone training in Japan. "The grants allocated by the Japanese government played a significant role in the improvement of the education, ecology, healthcare, transport and water supply spheres," Sharipov said. During the negotiations, the sides named precious metals processing and mountain tourism as the most promising areas of cooperation.

 

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